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Bicycle Diaries Hardcover – 6 Aug 2009
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"Entertaining . . . newcomers will enjoy these off-the-cuff sketches from an unpretentious cultural polymath; acolytes will cherish a closer look at Byrne's weird, wonderful brain chemistry."
--Time Out New York
"Whether you are a cyclist or not, Byrne's insights into everything from outside art to aboriginal folklore are wry, witty, and more often than not, wise as well."
--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Reading Bicycle Diaries makes cosmic indifference a lot easier to deal with."
--The Seattle Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
An utterly unique and personal travelogue from a cult figure in contemporary music.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
As the title suggests, the material for the book evolved in diary form over time, and the structure of the book reflects this. It is right, and true to the material, that this should be so, but it does mean that the various entries are of variable quality. Nevertheless, books of this kind, where an intelligent and engaged observer with a liberal agenda but no particular end in mind takes a close look at localities, are scarce indeed. In the hands of a travel writer, or a journalist, a totally different book would have emerged, but actually, this is the book I wanted.
Byrne is particularly good when examining U.S. cities, from the horrific but fascinating decline of Detroit, to the hopeful reinvention of New York. One excellent passage in particular sticks in the mind:
"Since the onslaught of the automobile in the middle of the last century, and the efforts of its enablers, like Robert Moses in New York, the accepted response to congestion has been to build more roads, especially roads that are high speed and with limited access. Eventually it became clear that building more roads doesn't actually relieve congestion - ever. More cars simply appear to fill these new roads and more folks imagine that their errands and commutes might be accomplished more easily on these new expressways. Yeah, right. People end up driving more, so instead of the existing traffic levels remaining constant and becoming dispersed on the new ribbons of concrete, the traffic simply increases until those too are filled. That's what New York and a lot of other cities are realizing now. The old paradigm is finally being abandoned."
Thank goodness for that.
It's a book driven by, and full of, a passion for cycling and written by a practising pedal-head. Someone who's enthusiastically used a bicycle as a principal form transportation in his native New York since the early 1980s. And who endeavours to explore various parts of the world in the same human-powered manner.
The first chapter is a wide-ranging, and rather nostalgic, exploration into a number of American Cities. Unfortunately, he encounters many rather frustrating, disconnected rides through communities chopped into ghettos by massive concrete ribbons.
Subsequent chapters are dedicated to one particular city. As seen from a cyclist perspective, it offers a new way of exploring and interacting with cities you might already have some knowledge about. His artistic eye picks out the unconventional, the significant, the sublime and the striking across the urban landscape and in the local art, music and film culture.
Always a deep thinker, his views are heartfelt and expressed with zeal - at times in an intensely earnest discourse. His observations and very personal points of view are enhanced by a collection of text-embedded photographs. As you might expect, the majority of these images are very different to the usual tourist fare, and interesting in their own right.
It's a brilliantly eccentric and highly personal book, delivered in a lovely embossed cloth cover. Even the epilogue entertains with its look into the future of transportation, and an eye catching selection of drawings illustrating some of his bike rack designs - many of which now adorn the streets of NewYork.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book, I bought as a gift for someone, they say it is very good. Despatched promptly.Published 3 months ago by Alison D.
Very enjoyable read full of lots of interesting trains of thought.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
If you started reading David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries
thinking that it would be a guide to taking a cycling trip around the cities mentioned, you probably were a little... Read more
Unexpectedly great read. I am not sure why this works as it is not a linear story and jumps around quite a bit but David Byrne manages to perfectly exalt the joins of cycling.Published 12 months ago by Larsist
Review of what? great book, but I've not had time to finish it yet. It was a bit dusty when it arrived, but no major problemPublished 23 months ago by Mr. I. HEANEY